Peter made the transition to teaching P.E. for kindergarten and first graders after teaching in the classroom for 14 years.
With a traditional focus on an organized sports model for Physical Education, Peter never thought to bring yoga to his students. Although he was familiar with research on the utility of yoga for professional athletes, he had never practiced yoga himself on a regular basis and couldn’t imagine the benefits yoga could have for his students.
Then came Yoga Ed.
When the opportunity arose for Punahou to adopt yoga in their summer school sessions through Yoga Ed., Peter was intrigued to see it in practice with young kids. He was immediately sold. On the very first day, Peter was amazed at how Yoga Ed. lessons supported teacher-student interactions and engaged kids who were typically challenged to stay focused. Yoga mat classes have been a part of the school curriculum for his students ever since.
Peter noticed a tangible difference in student behavior after practicing mat yoga.
Yoga challenges his kindergarten and first graders to move and experience their bodies in new ways, with new sensations and discomfort that comes with stretching and balancing. At the beginning of the year, kids are scattered and oftentimes restless in class, but Peter saw a marked improvement in their focus and comfort even with just three yoga sessions.
By the end of the year,” Peter observed, “they are much more comfortable with what they are being asked to do. Improvement in performance is visible and noticeable.
Yoga helps to fulfill needs that a traditional P.E. curriculum doesn’t meet.
The improvements in student outcomes points to another benefit of yoga for P.E. programs: yoga helps to build skills that are not necessarily developed in a traditional organized sports model. In most team sports, the activities aren’t focused on developing the child’s individual development, sense of balance and space, and general coordination. While kids may learn very specific skill sets such as kicking or throwing, they don’t often come away with an improved sense of holistic body-awareness.
Peter realized that body strength and flexibility learned from yoga serve his students in their development and in their everyday lives, outside of sports. With that in mind, Peter has adopted yoga stretches that are familiar to his students during warm-ups for other activities.
Yoga has changed the way Peter is able to relate to his students.
Yoga Ed. programming has not only strengthened Peter’s P.E. curriculum and supported his students’ growth and development, but has also enhanced his teaching and classroom management skills. Peter is now more aware of how he presents himself to his students and has learned that coming to the class with a patient, quiet demeanor helps him approach kids on their level, resulting in a more engaged interaction and productive class time.
Peter believes that yoga helps to meet a huge need for children today. As kids spend less time outdoors and more time online, they lose out on some natural opportunities to really get to know their bodies as they grow.
What’s missing in our children’s development is the kind of quieting practice that yoga offers, with emphasis on their own personal physical strength and development.Peter Balding, PE Teacher